View Full Version : Expanding my trade
09-05-2001, 01:27 PM
I've been a carpenter and cabinetmaker for over 25 yrs.I've done everything from building new homes from start to finish to building furniture and stairways.I would like to expand my woodworking knowledge to wooden boat repair. Now that we have our own wooden boat (13 1/2 ft. Wenaumet Kitten by Bigelow,Marconi rig cat,built in 1961)i want to do all the repairs etc. myself.I am thinking of taking a one day workshop at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, R.I on "Planking the hull",(carvel)With my backround and the workshop i mentioned how difficult will it be to make the transition from conventional woodworking (square)to boat work? Would like to hear from all you guys out there who do all your own work. What was your approach? I sure don't want to screw things up so i am not going to wing it. I'd rather man the bilge pump afew times than cause the boat leak like a sieve.Will get pictures on here sometime soon, i hope. Thanks Tom
09-05-2001, 02:26 PM
Welcome aboard sir......well as an experienced cabinet maker and a housebuilder you're gonna need lots of experience and practice, which the guys around here will definitely help you out with. You must remember though, that a house is nothing more than a rather poorly constructed boat, so you're gonna hafta really put your back into it to come up to standards. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif
09-05-2001, 03:04 PM
It's like this. No one will ever notice if one side of the boat is slightly different from the other. Try getting away with that on your next fine cabinetry project. LOL
Seriously, there are plenty of amateur boat builders and fixers who don't have anywhere near the skills that you do, and they manage just fine. A person with excellent wood working skills ought to be able to maintain a small wooden boat without much trouble in the transition. Check out some of the boat building books sold through the WoodenBoat store--they'll get you thinking like a boat builder.
09-05-2001, 03:12 PM
So an 'uptown carpenter' wants to come into the yards eh?
Not too difficult a transitiion if you keep in mind that most boat work is beveled not square and a 22 oz. waffle headed hammer with a rigging hatchet handle is not part of a boatbuilders kit of tools. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif
As far as the classes, In My Opinionated Opinion, they sure won't hurt.
09-05-2001, 05:00 PM
To me,it's who you are underneath the carpender skills.That sounds sorta shrinkish,doesn't it?What I mean is , if you have developed high quality carpentry skills,understand wood working tools,and know your way around the woodpile,the transition depends more on your committment to the art that is a wooden boat.
I think ya gotta love em.They have to interest you just because!
09-05-2001, 06:21 PM
You know it's funny how after so many years of doing something, every once in awhile you need to hear other people give you encouragement.I'm sure if i just jumped into repairing my boat i would probably do ok, and even though i "know my way around the wood pile" it helps to hear others who have been there with words of advise.Wood is what i do.To me there is no other option than a wooden boat,a wooden house with wood siding, etc. etc.If automobiles were made of wood i might enjoy them! I also love repairing old things, bringing them back from the grave so to speak.I'm sure this boat, like alot of other things in my life, will become a labor of love.I'm prepared to put my carpenters square away, but i will never give up my 20 oz. Rocket True Temper hammer. Thanks to all, Tom
09-05-2001, 07:28 PM
No no no!!!! Don't get rid of the square! There are a few straight lines and 90-degree angles here and there.
The best part of branching into boats is that there's a whole bunch of new toys, er, "tools" that is, to buy.
Brush up on your joinery - there's some pretty neat joints you'll need for hatchways, deckbeams, cabin corners and more. You'll use all your skills and add quite a few more.
Good luck! Keep us posted on what you're doing. Always good to "see a new face" here.
09-05-2001, 08:10 PM
Tom, the planking course at IYRS is worth your while. I think like all these things one gets out what one puts in, sort of.
The most important thing to know with respect to the IRYS course is that you will not be planking a real boat.
You likely will be paired with someone who's skills are different from yours (in my case my partner barely knew which way to push a plane.
You will be limited in what tools you may use. While many might cut out a plank with a skill or table saw fitted with a blade with some extra set, at IYRS you'll have to use a bandsaw. A ten+ foot long piece of wood and a partner who'd never seen a bandsaw before leads to a cut that is, ummm, I guess a bit wavy describes it well enough.
I've taken two courses at IYRS, and I can state that the instructors were first rate.
Mystic Seaport is another place you might explore. They have a week-long program on the topic of wooden boat repair. I just received the flyer and I don't know if it (the course) is full.
Over subscription of courses is a common problem to both operations.
09-05-2001, 08:48 PM
Tom, you ain't been payin' attenshun......all you need fer boatbuildin' is some paper tubs, stirring sticks and some "Googe" and somthing to trowell it on with......... http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif
09-05-2001, 10:36 PM
The only woodpile I know anything about is the one used to feed the woodstove. Yet I'm doin just fine on my wooden boat, or what there is of it so far. I only know that 'cuz these good folks told me so.
Um...you guys weren't fibbin to make me feel better, were ya?
09-06-2001, 09:21 AM
Another Tom added to the list. Welcome!
Like others have mentioned, I think your only potential difficulty may be unnecessary tweaking to get pieces within an RCH. There are some places in boatbuilding where high accuracy is required, but mostly not. Getting some hands-on experience with folks who do this for a living is probably the fastest way to give you a feel for just how our babies are put together.
Now carry on!
And by the way. It's true. You will "have to" acquire more tools. Too bad, eh? http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif
09-06-2001, 09:35 AM
Knowing woodworking is a definate plus. You will know that there may be several proper ways to achieve an end. Knowing what not to do and why takes a bit longer and a lot of study. Fool around with old wood boats and they will teach you a lot. If you wish to build larger craft, you will also have to become a mechanic, a machineist, and prehaps a welder. For sailboats, you will also need to become a rigger and a bit of sailmakeing won't hurt. If you wish to do this professionally, you will also have to get used to getting paid about half what the job is really worth, and how to avoid dealing with some jerk who insists on doing things half assed because that's all he can afford right now and/or he wants to sell her quick and get his money back. Yup, if you've done high end custom cabinet work professionally, you should be well prepared.
09-06-2001, 11:31 AM
Let me recommend the Fundamentals of Boatbuilding (see http://www.woodenboat.com/school/bbfundm.htm ) At WoodenBoat School. Beside being a learning experience it'll be fun.
A word of caution, have you heard of boatbuilder who won the lottery? When they asked him what he planned to do, he answered "I'll keep building boats... till the money runs out."
09-06-2001, 11:31 AM
Thanks to all for your comment, it's very helpful to hear everyones opinion.And Tom& Billy Bones it's funny how just when you think you will never need another clamp you come up short by just one and have to improvise or run out to buy one more!! And Dale, you must know some of the people i've done work for !! Your description of (some) customers was right on !! I'm planing on taking the course at IYRS in Newport in Nov. I'll keep everyone posted about how it goes.All this talk has got me anxious to get to work, but i'm afraid the boat is still in the water and i guess we'll just have to keep sailing!!!! Tom
09-06-2001, 12:12 PM
Beware of "common sense." There is a reason boat builders do as they do.
When I was building my airplane I met a couple of fellows who were building an airplane out of luan underlayment 'cause aircraft grade mahogany ply was ridiculously expensive. Underlayment was just fine for the houses they built so it oughta be good enough! Common sense in the hands of the ignorant is a dangerous thing.
09-06-2001, 12:20 PM
I once heard that common sense is nothing more than the sum total of everything you knew by the age of 15 plus all of the prejudices you have acquired since then. It is indeed a very dangerous thing. And it is not to be confused with the ability to come up with simple and practical solutions.
Good laugh. I heard a similar one. Question: How can I make a small fortune in yachting? Answer: Start with a large one.
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